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A person sanding a timber floor with a belt sander

Overview

Removing old vinyl flooring is a great way to give your home a quick facelift, especially if your floor is looking a little the worse for wear. It’s an inexpensive project, but you will spend a bit of time and use a fair amount of elbow grease. This video shows you what you need to know to do the job properly.

Steps

1Start by digging under a join between two vinyl sheets

Many older buildings were constructed using asbestos-containing materials, this include some flooring products. Exposure to asbestos poses a series health risk. If you come across anything that you think might be asbestos, stop work immediately.  In Australia you should contact your local counsel. In New Zealand you should contact your local District Health Board's Public Health Unit.  These organisations will assist you by providing further information on the testing and management of asbestos containing materials.

Use the blade of a large scraper to start prying the vinyl sheet off. Work in small, manageable sections of 500mm to 600mm in length. Strip the vinyl off the floor and cut each section off as you go. A lot of old houses used asbestos in their flooring. Exposure to Asbestos is very bad for your health. If you come across anything you think might be asbestos, stop work immediately and contact your local council. 


Person prying vinyl flooring from the ground

2Scrape the paper backing off the floor

Vinyl is usually backed with paper. This paper will probably stay stuck to the floor. Use your scraper to lift the paper off being careful not to scratch or gouge the floor underneath. If the scraper isn't that effective on it's own, put on a face mask and start using your heat gun to melt the glue that's sticking the paper to the floor. If you do use the heat gun, keep an eye on the colour of the paper. If it starts to turn brown, point the gun away so the paper doesn't catch fire.
Gloved person scraping paper backing off the floor

3Sand the surface with a belt sander

Once you've scraped off most of the paper, use a belt sander to sand back to a clean timber surface. Start with a coarse 40-grit paper to remove the last of the glue. Then switch to a finer 120-grit to get a smoother timber finish. Always sand along rather than across the grain.
A person sanding a timber floor with a belt sander

Suggested products

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.